Archived — Final Evaluation of the Community Access Program (CAP)

Final Report

October 21, 2009

Approved by the Deputy Minister at the October 30, 2009 Departmental Evaluation Committee meeting


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

This report presents the results of the second evaluation of the Community Access Program (CAP). The first evaluation was completed on January 16th, 2004. The focus of this evaluation was to assess continued need, relevance, success and cost-effectiveness of the program. The evaluation was conducted between May 1st and September 30th, 2009 by the Audit and Evaluation Branch of Industry Canada.

Background

The Community Access Program was established in 1994 in concert with the SchoolNet program as a response to the Government of Canada's priority to stimulate economic growth in rural areas by providing access to the Information Highway. The program's core objective has been to provide affordable public internet access, skills training and access to related services. Public locations such as schools, libraries and community centres have been used to provide both public access points to the internet as well as computer support and training. Budget 1998 provided additional funding for the purpose of establishing public access sites in urban areas.

Program funding rose to a high of $64 million in 1999–2000 while the number of sites peaked at 8,800 in 2003–2004. Beginning in 2006–2007, CAP funding was extended by one-year increments. The latest extension to March 31, 2010, provides $15.4 million in funding, along with $10.1 million from the Youth Employment Strategy. As of March 31st, 2009, there were 3,785 sites across Canada. Approximately 68 percent (68%) of sites are located in rural, remote and First Nations communities and 32 percent (32%) in urban areas. Just over $420 million has been expended on CAP since 1995.

CAP has been managed either through Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with provincial/territorial governments or through Industry Canada Regional Offices and Headquarters. Most sites have been organized into CAP networks that share a common interest or purpose. There are currently 82 networks of provincial, territorial, or community non-profit partners that operate and deliver services at the local level through co-funding and/or the provision of in-kind services. The program is currently monitored and delivered nationally by the Regional Operations Sector of Industry Canada.

CAP has also included a Youth Initiative component (CAP-YI) since 1996. It has been funded through the Youth Employment Strategy (YES) led by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). Through CAP-YI, youth have worked as interns at CAP sites across Canada to help individuals, community organizations and small businesses improve their knowledge and effective use of the internet and related information technologies.

The Community Access Program was created prior to the formation of current notions of the 'digital divide'. As highlighted later in Section 4.1.1, the digital divide pertains to both access to and use of the internet by specific demographic segments of the population whose access and use is also determined by other factors beyond the development of internet infrastructure to communities. While training has long been a part of the program's delivery, addressing access and use issues that are, in part, determined by low levels of income, low levels of literacy or language barriers, for example, has been beyond the scope of the program's core objectives and activities.

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Evaluation Approach and Methodology

The evaluation was managed and conducted by the Evaluation Directorate of the Audit and Evaluation Branch (AEB) of Industry Canada. It was supplemented with contracted resources from Ekos Research Associates for the purpose of conducting key informant interviews. A Steering Committee provided advice and guidance during the course of the evaluation. Youth Employment Strategy aspects of CAP programming were not included within the scope. Recommendations and a management response were not required as CAP is a sun-setting program, set to expire at the end of March 31st, 2010.

The methodology employed several lines of evidence to address the evaluation issues and establish key findings. The lines of evidence included a review of Government of Canada documentation; review and analysis of Statistics Canada data; summary analysis of previous studies; review of literature; review and analysis of administrative data; and a cost-effectiveness analysis. Finally, an analysis of twenty-six key informants representing Federal Government staff (16), external stakeholders (8) and two experts, was also included.

The methodology was limited by a lack of recent client outcome data, a lack of time series data showing attribution of client outcomes to program outputs, the inherent biases of key informant opinion and the evolving nature of the program over its fifteen year history. Although multiple surveys of CAP site administrators were conducted, they were self-reported results not subjected to independent verification. Finally, the inclusion of recently released studies was limited to the timeframe of the evaluation from May 1st to September 30th, 2009. Given these limitations, the evaluation was not able to adequately attribute intermediate and ultimate outcomes to CAP activities. A wealth of research, was available, however, regarding internet access and use in Canada, allowing for a robust analysis of continued need and relevance.

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Findings

Continued Need

The key findings pertaining to continued need of the program found that access to the internet in Canada has increased considerably since CAP was created. Ninety-four percent (94%) of Canadians now live in a community where broadband access is available for purchase. Virtually all urban households and seventy-eight percent (78%) of rural households had access to broadband service by the end of 2008. The evaluation also found that internet use has increased from almost all locations between 1999 and 2007, as an estimated eighty-five percent (85%) of Canadians now use the internet on a regular basis. The number of Canadian households using the internet has increased from sixteen percent (16%) in 1997 to approximately seventy-four percent (74%) in 2008.

Despite increases in access to and use of the internet, however, the digital divide continues to persist in Canada among a number of demographic groups including Canadians in rural and remote communities, low income earners, those with low levels of literacy and education, francophones over 50 years of age, seniors and others. Moreover, the Canadian Internet Project has reported that by the end of 2007, twelve percent (12%) of Canadians have never used the internet. This suggests that there may always be a portion of the population who may never use the internet.

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Relevance

A review of program relevance in relation to Government of Canada and Industry Canada priorities has found that the program is less aligned with the current priorities of the Federal Government and the department than it once was. CAP has always held affordable public access to the internet as one of its core objectives. While the Federal Government views broadband internet access as essential infrastructure, it is now emphasizing private sector development and access by households, rather than public access. In addition, budget reductions and shorter renewals also suggest that CAP is less of priority than it once was. Program funding has fallen steadily from a high of $64 million in 1999–2000 to its current level of $15 million, while the program has only been granted one-year renewals since 2006–2007.

The evaluation has also found that CAP is less aligned with Industry Canada priorities. An historical review of the Department's Reports on Plans and Priorities found that it has steadily reduced its focus on individual skills development, long a part of CAP programming. While aspects of Industry Canada's legislation and mandate partially support the objectives of increased access to and use of the internet, the most recent Extending Broadband initiative shifts focus away from public access sites. Moreover, Industry Canada staff interviewed for the evaluation had differing views on whether CAP aligned with the priorities of the department. In the main, Industry Canada's current priorities tend to emphasize household access through the development of broadband infrastructure, rather than public access at the community level.

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Success

Regarding the success of the program at achieving its immediate outcomes, it was found that CAP has been successful at funding and maintaining public internet access sites. CAP sites have been located mostly in libraries, community centres and schools, with sixty-eight percent (68%) of CAP sites located in rural, northern and remote communities, including three percent (3%) on First Nations reserves. On the other hand, the most recent analysis of CAP site data (July, 2009), estimated that approximately sixty-eight percent (68%) of CAP sites are located within a twenty-five kilometer radius to other public internet access sites, while only thirty-two percent (32%) of CAP sites are not. Forty-two percent (42%) of CAP sites in rural areas do not have alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius while the figure is much lower in urban areas, with only eight percent (8%) of CAP sites without alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius. The same survey also found that approximately forty-seven percent (47%) of CAP sites have broadband connectivity (at least 1.5 Mbps) while fifty-one percent (51%) reported having high speed. The remainder, approximately three percent (3%) of CAP sites, reported offering only dial-up service.

CAP has also demonstrated some success at providing access and training to demographic groups thought to be a part of the digital divide. Based on user survey and self-reported data, digital divide groups who have tended to use CAP sites include those with low income, lower levels of education, and those without home access to the internet and the unemployed. Key informants however, offered differing views. While a majority of key informants noted success of the program in this regard, a few suggested that much of the success was achieved in the early years of the program and that little new progress has been made in recent years to those most affected by the digital divide.

While access to and use of the internet has continued to increase, attribution to CAP activities could not be fully established. Regarding access, most key informant interviewees agreed that CAP has contributed to demand for IT/Internet among Canadians, but more substantive evidence to support this opinion was unavailable. Regarding internet use, self-reported program data from 2008 has indicated that training accessed at CAP sites has emphasized internet skills development and use of a variety of online services, with using internet/web searching, basic computer use, using email and finding government services online being the most popular training offered. What is known more generally is that the number of hours spent online each week by Canadians has continued to increase from an average of 11.9 hours in 2004 to an average of 18.8 hours in 2007.

The ultimate outcomes intended by CAP activities have included strengthened Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, knowledge and use. Compared to other countries, Canada has fallen from 2nd place to 10th place in terms of broadband penetration since 2003. This ranking is in part a reflection of the sharp increases seen in countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and others. Moreover, Canada is currently ranked 25th among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of advertised broadband speeds offered by service providers. Finally, the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Nunavut continue to experience lower than average internet access and use rates, in part, due to lagging infrastructure development.

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Cost-Effectiveness

The program appears to have been run cost-effectively in a number of respects. Administrative and self-reported data suggests that CAP has been successful at leveraging funds from other sources. Although the amounts leveraged by jurisdiction vary, a review of CAP administrative data has found that the program has leveraged just over $14.2 million from MOA partners since 2005–2006, representing 110% of the Industry Canada contribution of just over $12.9 million. In addition, sites from all provinces and territories reported in 2008 that they leveraged an average total cash funding of $14,880 from all sources, as well as $11,963 of in-kind funding, while the average Industry Canada contribution was $4,994. It was also reported that forty-seven percent (47%) of a site's cash funding came from the combination of municipal government and host organization funding.

The evaluation also found that the ratio of Operating Expenses to Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs) steadily declined between 2005–2006 and 2008–2009. While Gs&Cs have fallen by eighteen percent (18%) since 2005, operating expenses have fallen by sixty-eight percent (68%). In 2005–2006, the ratio stood at .289; by 2008–2009, the ratio had fallen to .115.

A 2005 cost-benefit study calculated that the program's benefits slightly outweighed its costs with an estimated ratio of 1.06. The study conducted a comparison of five Information Highway Applications Branch programs active at the time. They included the Broadband Program, Computers for Schools, First Nations School Net, Smart Communities and the Community Access Program. The study used data collected between 1994–1995 and 2004–2005, just prior to the reduction in the number of CAP sites in the 2003–2005 period. It was also found that CAP had the lowest benefit-cost ratio of the five programs included in the analysis.

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Overall Conclusions

While CAP was successful in the early years of the 'information highway', it may have out-lived is usefulness as a means to bring the internet to communities across Canada. Internet access and use has increased significantly since the creation of CAP in the mid-1990's, with ninety-four percent (94%) of Canadians now living in a community where broadband is available for purchase. The Government of Canada is now placing greater reliance on private sector mechanisms and household access over public initiatives and public access. Even though the digital divide continues to persist among specific demographic groups, the most effective channels through which to address this need was beyond the scope of this evaluation. CAP has been successful at establishing and maintaining public access sites, but recent program data has shown that other public access sites are available. Canada is currently ranked 10th in the world in terms of broadband internet access, while eighty-four percent (84%) of Canadians now use the internet regularly.

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List of Acronyms

ACOA
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
AEB
Audit and Evaluation Branch of Industry Canada
CAP
Community Access Program
CAP-YI
Community Access Program—Youth Initiative
CED-Q
Community Economic Development for the Quebec Regions
CIUS
Canadian Internet Use Survey
CRTC
Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission
GOC
Government of Canada
GOL
Government On-Line
Gs&Cs
Grants and Contributions
GST
Good and Services Tax
HRSDC
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
HST
Harmonized Sales Tax
IC
Industry Canada
ICT
Information Communications Technology
IHAB
Information Highway Applications Branch
INAC
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
ISP
Internet Service Provider
IT
Information Technology
Kbps
Kilobits per second
Mbps
Megabits per second
MOA
Memorandum of Agreement
O&M
Operations and Maintenance
OECD
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
OGDs
Other Government Departments
PEI
Prince Edward Island
RMAF
Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework
RPP
Report on Plans and Priorities
SITT
Spectrum Information Technologies and Telecommunications
USD
United States Dollars
WED
Western Economic Development
YES
Youth Employment Strategy
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List of Tables and Figures

Table or Figure

Table 1—CAP Funding By Year, 2004–2010
Table 2—Residential Internet Access Technology Mix, 2004 v. 2008
Table 3—Internet Use by Location of Access, Canada, 1999–2007
Table 4—Spending On Household Operation By Income Quintile, Households with Actual Spending Only, 2007
Table 5—Main Reasons That Non-Users Do Not Use the Internet, Canada, 2007
Figure 1—CAP Funding By Year, 1999–2010
Table 6—Average Industry Canada CAP Site Contribution By Year, 2005–2009
Table 7—Change in Hours Online, Select Demographic Groups, Canada, 2004–2007
Table 8—Training Offered at CAP Sites by Percentage of Sites Reporting, 2008
Table 9—Funds Leveraged from MOA Provinces and Territories By Year, 2005–2009
Table 10—Ratio of CAP Operating Expenses to Gs&Cs, 2005–2009
Table 11—Present Value of Benefits and Costs and Benefit Cost Ratios by IHAB Programs, 1994–2005

1.0 Introduction

This report presents the results of the second evaluation of the Community Access Program (CAP). The first evaluation was completed on January 16th, 2004. The focus of this evaluation was to assess continued need, relevance, success and cost-effectiveness of the program. The current evaluation was undertaken in consultation with a Steering Committee and managed by the Audit and Evaluation Branch of Industry Canada. This report is organized into four sections: Section 2 provides the general background of the program; Section 3 presents the approach and methodology followed to conduct the evaluation; Section 4 presents the findings by evaluation issue; and Section 5 summarizes the key findings.

2.0 Background

The Community Access Program is a Government of Canada (GOC) initiative established in 1994 and administered by Industry Canada, which aims to provide Canadians with affordable public access to the internet and the skills they need to use it effectively. The program's core objective has been to provide affordable public internet access, skills training and access to related services. With the combined efforts of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, community groups, social agencies, libraries, schools, volunteer groups and the business community, CAP is intended to help Canadians take advantage of emerging opportunities in the new global knowledge-based economy. Under CAP, public locations like schools, libraries and community centres provide access to the Information Highway for all Canadians, as well as computer support and training.

As of March 31st, 2009, there were 3,785 sites across Canada with approximately 68 percent (68%) of sites in rural, remote and First Nation communities and 32 percent (32%) in urban areas. Most sites are organized into CAP networks, or groupings of CAP sites that share a common interest or purpose and work collaboratively in the pursuit of common objectives with other partners. There are currently 82 networks of provincial, territorial, or community non-profit partners that operate and deliver services at the local level through co-funding and/or the provision of in-kind services.

CAP is managed in two different ways: either through Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with provincial/territorial governments (Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon) or through Industry Canada Regional Offices and Headquarters.Footnote 1 The program is currently monitored and delivered nationally by the Regional Operations Sector of Industry Canada.

CAP also includes a Youth Initiative component (CAP-YI), funded through the Youth Employment Strategy (YES) led by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)Footnote 2. Through CAP-YI, up to 1,500 youth work as interns at CAP sites across Canada, helping individuals, community organizations and small businesses improve their knowledge and effective use of the internet and related information technologies.

Beginning in 2006–2007, CAP funding was extended by one-year increments. The latest extension, to March 31, 2010, provides $15.4 million in funding, along with $10.1 million from the Youth Employment Strategy.

Table 1: CAP Funding By Year, 2004–2010Footnote *
Year CAP Funding Allocation CAP-YI Funding Allocation Total
  1. * Funding Allocation includes both O&M and Grants and Contributions. (back to footnote reference *)

Source: CAP Administrative Data.

2004–2005 $25 million $4.9 million $29.9 million
2005–2006 $25 million $4.9 million $29.9 million
2006–2007 $12.5 million $8.9 million $21.4 million
2007–2008 $19 million $10.1 million $29.1 million
2008–2009 $18.9 million $10.1 million $29 million
2009–2010 $15.4 million $10.1 million $25.5 million
Total $115.8 million $49 million $164.8 million

The most recent audit of CAP was conducted in 2003 as a part of a follow-up audit of the Information Highway Applications Branch (IHAB). The audit noted that the branch had made progress on recommendations stemming from an audit conducted in 2000 and that the branch should continue its work to improve the management of its finances, contracts and contribution agreements. A final evaluation of CAP-YI was conducted by Industry Canada in 2003, and an evaluation of CAP was conducted in 2004. The 2004 evaluation recommended the following changes to CAP: refocus and refine the program's strategic priorities, improve the marketing of the program and its benefits/potential applications; provide multi-year funding, if possible; assess the feasibility of increasing funding to certain sites; establish service standards for sites; and keep a database of CAP sites up-to-date. The program's current logic model, updated in May 2009, is presented in Appendix A—CAP Logic Model, for additional reference.


Footnotes

  1. 1 The Saskatchewan MOA is with the Saskatchewan Library Services that acts as one of several network coordinators in that province. The agreement is not viewed as a government-to-government agreement. Although there is no official agreement with the government of PEI, as CAP is delivered by a provincial crown corporation (Technology PEI), the province is treated similarly to other MOA partners. (back to footnote reference 1)
  2. 2 The CAP-YI has been in existence since 1996. (back to footnote reference 2)

3.0 Approach and Methodology

3.1 Overall Approach

The evaluation was managed and conducted by the Evaluation Directorate of the Audit and Evaluation Branch (AEB) of Industry Canada between May 1st and September 30th, 2009. The AEB team was supplemented with contracted resources from Ekos Research Associates for the purpose of conducting key informant interviews as a contributing line of evidence to the evaluation. A Steering Committee was established by AEB to provide advice and guidance during the course of the evaluation (See Appendix F—Evaluation Steering Committee Members). Weekly updates were held with the external consulting firm and program management on the progress of data collection, analysis and reporting. Three meetings of the Steering Committee were also held during the course of the evaluation.

The Evaluation Directorate conducted the bulk of the analysis and reporting. This work included a review of previous studies and program reports as well as a review of literature to describe the state of Information Communications Technology (ICT) access and the digital divide during the life cycle of the program. The Evaluation Directorate was responsible for drafting a presentation on preliminary findings as well as draft and final reports which incorporated the key informant analysis conducted by Ekos. Recommendations and a management response were not required as CAP is a sun-setting program whose terms and conditions are set to expire on March 31st, 2010.

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3.2 Methodology

The evaluation matrix from the program's May, 2009 Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) was used to research findings by evaluation issue, sub-issue and indicator (See Appendix B—Evaluation Matrix). As this was the second evaluation of CAP, evaluation issues focused on continued need and relevance, success and progress in the achievement of objectives and the cost-effectiveness of program delivery. Youth Employment Strategy aspects of CAP programming were not included within the scope of this evaluation but have been addressed through evaluation efforts by HRSDC.

The methodology included the following multiple lines of evidence: review of Government of Canada documentation; review and analysis of Statistics Canada data; summary analysis of previous studies; review of literature; review and analysis of administrative data; cost-effectiveness analysis; and a key-informant analysis. Findings have been reported showing corroboration across lines of evidence where possible.

In total, over 150 documents, previous studies, and sources of literature were reviewed (See Appendix E—Bibliography). All data was then compiled in an evidence matrix and a content analysis was conducted to identify key themes and derive findings and conclusions. In addition, a total of 26 key informant interviews were conducted. The interviewees were identified and prioritized by AEB and CAP management in consultation with Ekos. The number of interviews conducted by category of interviewee was as follows:

  • Federal employees (n=14)
    • Industry Canada National Headquarters staff (n=6);
    • Industry Canada Regional staff (n=7);
    • Other Industry Canada staff (n=1);
  • External stakeholders and other (non-Industry Canada) federal employees (n=12):
    • Representatives from other federal departments (n=2);
    • Provincial representatives (n=6);
    • Non-Governmental Organizations (n=2); and
    • ICT experts (n=2).

Findings from key informant interviews were verified with the interviewees before being synthesized and summarized in a separate key informant technical report (See also Appendix—C List of Key Informants and Appendix D—Data Collection Instruments).

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3.3 Limits to the Methodology

The methodology was limited in a number of respects. First, client outcome data and a lack of time series data showing attribution of client outcomes to program outputs was not available. A 2003 survey of clients was conducted, but it did not include an entrance survey to assess use, knowledge and skills or any follow-up to determine if CAP users increased their awareness, knowledge of or use of the internet.3 Second, although successive surveys of CAP site administrators in 2005, 2008 and 2009 were available to provide some indication of the extent to which CAP has served demographic groups thought to be a part of the digital divide, provided training, and leveraged financial and in-kind funding from other sources, they are self-reported estimates that have not been independently verified. Third, while interviews with key informants did provide some insight into the continued need, relevance and success of the program, such evidence must be weighted accordingly if no other corroborating evidence is available. Fourth, considerable effort was made to include the most up-to-date research on internet access and use in Canada, but the inclusion of recently released studies was limited to the timeframe of the evaluation from May 1st to September 30th, 2009. Finally, while the core objective of the program has remained virtually unchanged since the launch of the program in 1995, a variety of sub-objectives have been added to the program's rationale over the ensuing 15 years, often reflecting short-term priorities peripheral to the core program (e.g. increased online Canadian cultural content). Given the changing nature of the program's sub-objectives, this evaluation sought to assess program success based on the program's core objective of providing affordable public internet access, skills training and access to related services.4

Given these limitations, the evaluation was not able to adequately attribute intermediate and ultimate outcomes to CAP activities. However, a wealth of research was available regarding internet access and use in Canada, allowing for a robust analysis of continued need and relevance. The Terms of Reference for the evaluation was forwarded to the Centre of Excellence for Evaluation, Treasury Board Secretariat, for review prior to the commencement of the evaluation.


3 The 2003 Online User Survey has previously been referenced in the Evaluation Study of the Community Access Program, January 16th, 2004, conducted by the Audit and Evaluation Branch of Industry Canada. (Return to Reference 3).

4 See Results-based Management and Accountability Framework for the Community Access Program, Information Highway Applications Branch, Industry Canada, February, 2003 and Results-based Management and Accountability Framework for the Community Access Program, Regional Operations Sector, Industry Canada, May 2009. (Return to Reference 4).

4.0 Findings and Analysis

This section of the report presents the findings and analysis stemming from the methodology applied and the various lines of evidence relied on for this evaluation. It has been presented according to the three primary issues under review: 1) continued need and relevance; 2) Success and progress toward the achievement of objectives; and 3) cost-effectiveness.

4.1 Continued Need/Relevance

This section of the report addresses issues and indicators pertaining to the continued need and relevance of the program to the extent possible. The renewed Policy on Evaluation includes a directive to assess the linkages between program objectives and (i) federal government priorities; and (ii) departmental strategic outcomes. Original funding approvals for CAP identified the need to bring the Information Highway (i.e. internet access) to rural and remote communities through public access points in schools and libraries. At that time, more than 13 million Canadians lived in an estimated 5,000 communities of populations between 400 and 50,000 people.5 Access to the internet in urban areas was added as a component of the program in 1998.6 The program's core objective has been to provide affordable public internet access, skills training and access to related services.

The Community Access Program was created prior to the formation of current notions of the 'digital divide'. As highlighted later in Section 4.1.1, the digital divide pertains to both access to and use of the internet by specific demographic segments of the population whose access and use is also determined by other factors beyond the development of internet infrastructure to communities. While training has long been a part of the program's delivery, addressing access and use issues that are, in part, determined by low levels of income, low levels of literacy or language barriers, for example, has been beyond the scope of the program's core objectives and activities.

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4.1.1 Is there a continued need for a program such as CAP?

Access to and use of the internet in Canada has increased considerably since CAP was created.

Ninety-four percent (94%) of Canadians now live in a community where broadband access is available for purchase, although only fifty-two percent (52%) of all Canadian homes have a broadband internet connection. Virtually all urban households and seventy-eight percent (78%) of rural households had access to broadband service by the end of 2008.7 According to 2006 census data available from Statistics Canada, eighty percent (80%) or 23.9 million Canadians lived in urban areas versus twenty percent (20%) or 6.09 million Canadians in rural areas.8

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported that only sixteen percent (16%) of Canadian households used the internet in 1997.9 By 2008, approximately seventy-four percent (74%) of Canadian households subscribed to internet service.10 The 2009 Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Monitoring Report also reports that sixty-nine (69%) of Canadian households subscribed to high-speed internet access service while services above 5 megabits per second (Mbps) were taken by forty-one (41%) of households11

Table 2 shows the comparison between 2004 and 2008 in the residential internet access technology mix in Canada. Between those years, the residential use of cable internet access increased substantially from forty percent (40%) to fifty-one (51%) of residences, while dial-up internet access fell from twenty-seven percent (27%) to seven percent (7%).12

Table 2: Residential Internet Access Technology Mix, 2004v. 2008
Technology Percent in 2004 Percent in 2008
Source: CRTC Monitoring Report, 2009. 
* DSL refers to 'digital subscriber line' that provides digital data transmission over the wires of a telephone network, providing download speeds ranging from 386 kbps to 20 mbps. (Return to Table Reference 2)
Cable 40% 51%
DSL* 32% 39%
Dial-Up 27% 7%
Other 1% 3%

Internet use increased from almost all locations between 1999 and 2007.

According to estimates from the International Telecommunications Union, eighty-five percent (85%) of Canadians now use the internet on a regular basis, up from sixty-five (65%) in 2005.13 As shown in Table 3 below, internet use from almost all locations has continued to increase over time, suggesting an increase in both supply and demand. Internet use from home has more than doubled, from just under twenty-nine percent (29%) to over sixty-eight percent (68%), and has consistently remained the primary location of access. Internet use from work and school has fluctuated. Internet use from a public library has grown steadily while use from other locations has also grown more significantly.

Table 3: Internet Use by Location of Access, Canada, 1999–2007
Location Year
1999 2001 2003 2005 2007
Source: Statistics Canada, Household Internet survey (HIUS) for 1999–2003 (survey of households); Canadian Internet use survey (CIUS) for 2005–2007 (survey of individuals). Only adults aged 18 years and over were surveyed. 

** Other Locations for 1999–2003 include relatives' home, friends' or neighbours' home, community access program, internet café and other. Other Locations for 2005–2007 include relatives' home, friends' or neighbours' home, government office, department of kiosk (including CAP site), internet or cyber café or similar, voluntary organization, during travel (including hotel, airport, other office), through a mobile telephone or another wireless personal digital assistant, or other. (Return to Table Reference 3)
Home 28.7% 48.7% 54.5% 60.9% 68.6%
Work 21.9% 32.6% 36.5% 26.3% 30.0%
School 14.9% 22.2% 23.1% 11.7% 14.5%
Public Library 4.5% 7.9% 8.7% 10.2% 10.8%
Other Locations** 3.9% 9.6% 10.4% 20.3% 22.0%

Statistics Canada has also reported that cost has been a factor in the use and adoption of home computers and the internet.14 In contrast, the 2007 Canada Online survey found that affordability was not commonly cited as the reason for not using the internet, suggesting that cost is less of an issue than it once was. This appears to be consistent with the results of the 2003 survey of CAP users which found that only five percent (5%) of users cited cost as the main barrier to owning a computer.15 Based on a recent report on poverty using Statistics Canada data, however, there appears to be a distinction between households with contrasting levels of income and spending on internet use as shown in Table 4. While eighty-nine percent (89%) of households in the highest income quintile reported home internet expenditures, only thirty-four percent (34%) of households in the lowest income quintile reported home internet expenditures.

Table 4: Spending On Household Operation By Income Quintile, Households with Actual Spending Only, 2007
Spending Category Lowest 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Highest 20%
Source: The Affordability Gap: Spending Differences Between Canada's Rich and Poor, 2009, page 10. 
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Based on data from Statistics Canada Survey of Household Spending, 2007.
Childcare Outside Home $1,380 $1,837 $1,914 $2,901 $4,105
% of Households 2% 6% 9% 13% 15%
Cell Phones, Hand-holds $491 $568 $717 $816 $1,058
% of Households 40% 60% 73% 77% 85%
Pets $453 $609 $814 $945 $1,289
% of Households 31% 44% 50% 58% 62%
Internet Access $356 $415 $416 $443 $478
% of Households 34% 58% 75% 84% 89%

Despite increases in access to and use of the internet, the digital divide continues to persist in Canada.

In spite of increased access to and use of the internet in Canada since CAP's inception, Statistics Canada and other studies have found that elements of the digital divide as measured in terms of access to and use of the internet continues to persist in Canada among the following demographic groups16:

  • Canadians in rural and remote communities;
  • Low income earners;
  • Those with low levels of literacy and education;
  • Francophones over 50 years of age;
  • Seniors;
  • Recent immigrants;
  • Aboriginal persons; and
  • Persons with disabilities.

Statistics on the differences in internet use between the above demographic groups and the general population abound. Statistics Canada has reported that significantly fewer Canadians living in rural areas use the internet than urban Canadians. The 2007 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) found that just over seventy-five percent (75.6%) of urban Canadians used the internet from any location compared to sixty-five percent (65.2%) of rural Canadians. 17 In terms of income level, the 2007 CIUS reported that internet use from any location of the lowest income quartile stood at just over sixty-eight percent (68.8%) while internet use from any location by the highest income quartile stood at almost eighty-eight percent (87.9%), a difference of almost twenty percent percentage points. The CIUS also reported that just over forty-three percent (43.2%) of individuals with less than high school education reported using the internet while just over ninety-two percent (92.5%) of individuals with university education reported using the internet, a more pronounced difference of almost fifty percent percentage points.18 Finally, Canada Online 2007 reports that "In [Quebec] communities with populations less than 5,000, only forty-nine percent (49%) of Quebecers are current Internet users, compared to seventy percent (70%) in the rest of Canada."19

Almost all key informant interviewees felt there is a continued need for a program such as CAP to increase awareness regarding the usefulness of the internet and the skill level of Canadians to use it effectively. A majority of interviewees, representing external stakeholders and Industry Canada staff, indicated that the need for increasing awareness and skill levels is greater among some groups of Canadians including low income earners, seniors, new Canadians (recent immigrants) and First Nations. A few interviewees further noted that there is an on-going need for training because of the growing divide between those who are basic users of the internet (i.e. have basic skills) and those who are advanced users. They suggested that there is a need to ensure that basic users' abilities keep up with evolving technologies. One of the ICT experts interviewed referred to this as the "Second Digital Divide." These views are corroborated in part, by a March, 2007 Ipsos Reid study which reported that thirty-five percent (35%) of Canadians consider the internet a part of their daily routine, the percentage of Canadians who view themselves as expert or very skilled with the internet has increased only marginally to 32%, from 27%, since 2001.20

Twelve percent (12%) of Canadians have never used the internet.

While twelve percent (12%) of Canadians have never used the internet, the Canadian Internet Project has also reported that two in five of non-users, (i.e. those who have not used the internet in three months or more) planned to use the internet in the future. Reasons for not using the internet have included lack of interest, the sense that the internet is not useful, not having a computer or internet access, confusion about technology and being too busy. 21 This suggests there may always be a portion of the population who will simply not use the internet. Table 5, again using data from the Canadian Internet Project, shows the main reasons that non-users do not use the internet.

Table 5: Main Reasons That Non-Users Do Not Use the Internet, Canada, 2007
Reason for Not Using the Internet All Non-Users Internet Ex-Users Never-Users
Source: Canada Online 2007, Canadian Internet Project, 2007, n=639.
No Interest, not useful 32% 30% 35%
No computer or internet connection 26% 25% 27%
Technology, encumbrance 
(confused, do not know how to use)
13% 11% 14%
No time or too busy 10% 17% 5%
Cost, too expensive 9% 10% 8%
Privacy or security issue 5% 4% 5%
Age, too old 4% 2% 6%
Other 1% 1% -1%
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4.1.2 Is CAP aligned with Government of Canada and Industry Canada Priorities?

A program such as the CAP is less aligned with the current priorities of the Government of Canada than it once was.

While the GOC views broadband access, set at a minimum rate of 1.5 Mbps, as essential infrastructure for participation in the economy by enabling citizens to access information, services and opportunities, it is now emphasizing private sector development and access by households, rather than public access. This emphasis on the private sector as a means to achieve policy objectives is also evident in the Governor-in-Council directive to the CRTC in 2006.22 Budget 2009 saw the Government of Canada dedicate over $225 million to Industry Canada over three years to extend broadband service to unserved and underserved communities through the private development of broadband infrastructure. It states the following:

Canada was one of the first countries to implement a connectivity agenda geared toward facilitating Internet access to all of its citizens. To this day, Canada remains one of the most connected nations in the world, with the highest broadband connection rate among the G7 countries. However, gaps in access to broadband remain, particularly in rural and remote communities. The Government is committed to closing the broadband gap in Canada by encouraging the private development of rural broadband infrastructure.

Budget 2009 provides $225 million over three years to Industry Canada to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to all currently unserved communities beginning in 2009–10.23

In concert with this initiative, Industry Canada recently completed a broadband mapping exercise intended to understand the extent to which Canadians remain unserved or underserved.

These latest initiatives are consistent with the statutory requirements of the Telecommunications Act. Section 7 (b) of the Act states that one of the objectives of the Canadian Telecommunications Policy is "to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada." Section 7 (h) of the Act states the need "to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services." The Act broadly defines telecommunications as "the emission, transmission or reception of intelligence by any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or by any similar technical system."24 The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages issues the CRTC's Departmental Performance Report that, in part, reports on the achievement of policy objectives set out in the Telecommunications Act.25 Section 47 (a) of the Act charges the Commission with the responsibility to implement the Canadian Telecommunications Policy.26

Key informants offered differing views regarding the alignment of CAP with current GOC priorities. Overall, most key informant interviewees agreed that CAP fits well with the priorities of the Federal Government. There was agreement among these interviewees that the program aligns with the priorities of key aspects of the Economic Action Plan, given that the Plan represents the priorities of the current government. They include 'Supporting Families and Communities' and 'Stimulating the Economy'. In contrast, a few interviewees felt that CAP does not support Federal Government priorities, noting the program is too vague and broad to align with any of the Federal priorities of the Economic Action Plan.

Budget reductions and shorter renewals suggest CAP is less of priority than it once was.

As shown in Figure 1 below, CAP originally experienced significant increases to its budget during its first four-year funding cycle, from $3 million in 1995–1996 to a high of $64 million in 1999–2000. (Figures do not include CAP-YI funding). While funding between 2000–2001 and 2005–2006 fluctuated from a high of $59 million to a low of $25 million, CAP's budget increased to $45 million just prior to the reduction of CAP sites in the 2003–2005 period. Since 2006–2007, CAP's budget has remained relatively static, never rising above $20 million. The level of funding could be viewed as an indication of the priority placed upon CAP programming by the government of the day, with higher funding levels representing increased priority and lower funding levels representing reduced priority.

Figure 1: CAP Funding By Year, 1995–2010

CAP Funding By Year, 1995-2010

Description of Figure 1

Source: CAP Administrative Data. 
Note: Excludes CAP-YI funding through HRSDC.

The length of funding approvals for the program is of significance as well. The program's first funding cycle covered five years, from 1995–1996 to 1999–2000 with supplemental and additional funding approved in 1997. Between 2000–2001 and 2005–2006, funding was renewed for two-year terms. However, by 2006–2007, funding approvals for CAP became one-year extensions, with the current extension to the end of the 2009–2010 fiscal year. The length of funding cycles could also be viewed as an indication of the priority placed upon CAP programming by the government of the day, with longer funding cycles representing increased priority and shorter funding cycles representing the converse.

CAP is less aligned with Industry Canada Priorities than it once was.

A review of the Industry Canada's Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPP), a public reporting of Department's priorities, finds prominence placed on the Connecting Canadians agenda in the early 2000's, but by 2006–2007, references to this agenda were no longer mentioned. The same is true of specific references to 'skills development'. For example, the 2005–2006 RPP noted that the Department, in part, "promotes economic development by ensuring Canadians, communities and businesses have access to reliable modern ICT infrastructure and the skills needed to fully participate in the digital economy." By 2008–2009, 'skills development' is no longer mentioned as an aspect of participation in the digital economy. In fact, it was only referenced as it pertains to enhancing Canada's research and innovation capacity.27

Industry Canada staff interviewed for the evaluation had differing views on whether CAP aligned with the priorities of the Department. Slightly more interviewees felt the program aligns well with the priorities of Industry Canada through the 'Innovative and Knowledge-based Economy' priority. The program provides Canadians with the knowledge necessary to take advantage of the knowledge-based economy. A few interviewees also noted that by providing Canadians with the skills necessary to work with computers, they would be able to find better jobs as a result of acquiring these skills. In contrast, a minority of Industry Canada interviewees felt CAP does not align well with the priorities of the department at all. These interviewees suggested the program would be a better fit within another department (e.g. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), HRSDC or Service Canada).

Aspects of Industry Canada's legislation and mandate partially support the objectives of increased access to and use of the internet.

The Department of Industry Act provides the Minister with powers to, among other things strengthen the economy; increase international competiveness; encourage the development and use of science and technology; and promote the establishment, development and efficiency of Canadian communications systems.28 One of CAP's key objectives has been to enhance community access to the internet, clearly a "communications system".

Part II of the Act, Regional Economic Development in Ontario, more closely aligns with CAP in that it provides the Minister of Industry with the authority to engage in activities intended to promote long-term economic development, sustainable employment, income creation and entrepreneurship, in so far as extending access to the internet to communities is considered a part of such activity. Moreover, Industry Canada's mandate includes support for participation in the digital economy. Program Activity 3.3 of the department's Program Activity Architecture, for example, includes the goal of promoting access to the internet and ICTs, and the skills to use them, in order to increase the capacity of individuals and communities across Canada to participate in the knowledge-based economy.29 In the main, however, Industry Canada's current priorities tend to emphasize household access through the development of broadband infrastructure, rather than public access at the community level.


5 See Budget 1994: A New Framework for Economic Policy, Budget 1996 and Budget 1997: Building the Future for Canadians. (Return to Reference 5).

6 The Budget Plan 1998: Building Canada for the 21st Century, page 96. (Return to Reference 6).

7 CRTC Monitoring Report 2009, page 213. (Return to Reference 7).

8 http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/demo62a-eng.htm September 23, 2009. (Return to Reference 8).

9 OECD Information Technology Outlook, 2008, page 232. (Return to Reference 9).

10 CRTC Monitoring Report 2009, page 213. (Return to Reference 10).

11 High-speed Internet access service includes speeds at or above 128 kilobits per second (Kbps) while Broadband service includes speeds at or above 1.5 Mbps. (Return to Reference 11).

12 CRTC Communications Monitoring Report, 2009, page 221. (Return to Reference 12).

13 http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/ca.htm September 18, 2009. (Return to Reference 13).

14 The Daily, Statistics Canada, November 5, 2007. (Return to Reference 14).

15 Community Access Program 2003 Online User Survey, Industry Canada. (Return to Reference 15).

16 See Canadian Internet Use Survey, Statistics Canada, 2008, Canada Online 2007, Canadian Internet Project, 2008 and Off-Reserve Aboriginal Internet Users, Susan Crompton (Statistics Canada), 2004. (Return to Reference 16).

17 How Canadians' Use of the Internet Affects Social Life and Civic Participation, Statistics Canada, 2008. (Return to Reference 17).

18 http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/comm35a-eng.htm September 23, 2009. The CIUS used the household as the unit of analysis. (Return to Reference 18).

19 Canada Online 2007, page 44. (Return to Reference 19).

20 Ipsos Reid New Release, March 14, 2007. (Return to Reference 20).

21 Canada Online 2007, page 73. (Return to Reference 21).

22 The CRTC Departmental Performance Report 2007–2008 notes the following on page 11: In December 2006, the Governor-in-Council issued a policy direction to the CRTC that directed the Commission to rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible as the means of achieving the policy objectives set out in the Telecommunications Act. At that time, the Commission estimated that 30% of telecommunications revenues were subject to economic regulation. By March 31, 2008, approximately 71% of residential lines and 64% of business lines were free from economic regulation. Overall, approximately 90% of total telecommunications revenues come from unregulated services. (Return to Reference 22).

23 Budget 2009, page 153. (Return to Reference 23).

24 Telecommunications Act, Government of Canada, 1993. (Return to Reference 24).

25 See 2007–2008 Departmental Performance Report, CRTC, page 11. (Return to Reference 25).

26 In a 2002 decision, the CRTC established a deferral account representing the difference between the rates actually charged by carriers and those set by the CRTC. By 2006, this fund had grown to $650 million. The CRTC has made a number of decisions regarding the use of the fund, including customer rebates, expansion of service to persons with disabilities and expansion of broadband service to rural and remote communities. The Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the CRTC's legislated mandate to establish the fund and determine its uses in a September 18, 2009 decision. The Commission has indicated that approximately $350 million will be used to fund broadband projects. See Supreme Court of Canada, Bell Canada v. Bell Aliant Regional Communications, 2009 SCC 40, September 18, 2009 and http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2006/dt2006-9.htm September 30, 2009. (Return to Reference 26).

27 See Reports on Plans and Priorities, Industry Canada, 2009–2010. (Return to Reference 27).

28 Department of Industry Act, 1995, current to June 17, 2009. (Return to Reference 28).

29 2010–2011 Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture, Industry Canada. (Return to Reference 29).

4.2 Success and Progress Towards the Achievement of Objectives

This section of the report addresses issues and indicators pertaining to the achievement of program objectives. As stated earlier, the core objective of CAP has been to promote affordable public internet access, skills training and access to related services. Success (or progress) can be thought of as the extent to which the program has achieved its immediate, intermediate and ultimate outcomes.

4.2.1 To what degree have immediate outcomes of CAP been achieved?

CAP has been successful at funding and maintaining public internet access sites.

In 2004–2005, CAP's strategic direction was revised to refocus site locations on those most affected by the digital divide. The number of CAP sites was subsequently reduced from approximately 8,800 to 3,800. CAP sites have been located mostly in libraries, community centres and schools. Moreover, approximately seventy percent (70%) of CAP sites are located in rural, northern and remote communities while approximately three percent (3%) are located on First Nations reserves.

On the other hand, the most recent analysis of CAP site data (July, 2009), estimated that approximately sixty-eight percent (68%) of CAP sites are located within a twenty-five kilometer radius to other public internet access sites, while only thirty-two percent (32%) of CAP sites are not.30 Forty-two percent (42%) of CAP sites in rural areas do not have alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius while the figure is much lower in urban areas, with only eight percent (8%) of CAP sites without alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius. The same survey also found that approximately forty-seven percent (47%) of CAP sites have broadband connectivity (at least 1.5 Mbps) while fifty-one percent (51%) reported having high speed. The remainder, approximately three percent (3%) of CAP sites, reported offering only dial-up service.

Although CAP funding has fallen steadily from $25 million in 2004–2005 to $15.4 million in 2009–2010, surveys of CAP sites and administrative data suggests that the program has also been successful at maintaining a relatively consistent funding level per site and attracting funding from other sources. The average Industry Canada contribution per site over the 2005 to 2009 period was $4,227. Table 6 shows the average contribution by year, since 2005–2006.

Table 6: Average Industry Canada CAP Site Contribution By Year, 2005–2009
Year 2005–2006 2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
Source: CAP Administrative Data. 
Note: Data on the median and ranges of IC contribution by CAP sites was unavailable at the time of the evaluation.
Number of CAP Sites 3,951 3,939 3,843 3,785
Average IC Contribution $4,306 $3,850 $4,944 $3,809

CAP has also been successful at partnering with provincial/territorial or municipal governments and site organizations as well as non-profit/voluntary organizations to secure additional funding to operate CAP sites. According to self-reported data from CAP sites in 2008 and 2009, almost $15,000 in cash funding has been provided by other funding sources, on average, per CAP site.

CAP has demonstrated some success at providing access to demographic groups thought to be a part of the digital divide.

Digital divide groups who have tended to use CAP sites include those with low income, lower levels of education, and those without home access to the internet and the unemployed.31 A 2005 study reported that fifty percent (50%) of responding CAP sites identified serving target groups such as youth, seniors, job seekers, people with low income, women and people with limited education.32 However, analysis of the data from the 2003 survey of CAP users also suggests that the profile of CAP users differs little from the general population.

Key informants offered differing views regarding the program's success at serving digital divide groups. Almost all key informant interviewees felt that CAP has been successful in providing access to the internet to those most affected by the digital divide. Interviewees, representing external stakeholders and Industry Canada staff, agreed that CAP has contributed to addressing the digital divide by providing access to the internet and training to groups that would otherwise not have access. Specific groups mentioned by interviewees that have benefited include seniors, people with disabilities, low income Canadians, those living in rural/remote areas and First Nations communities. Although they felt CAP has been successful at providing access to the internet, a few interviewees, representing external stakeholders, noted that some communities (i.e. rural and First Nations) continue to be underserved and lag behind in terms of access. A few interviewees, representing Industry Canada staff, noted that although the program has been successful in this regard, much of the success was achieved early in the program and little new progress has been made in recent years to those most affected by the digital divide.

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4.2.2 To what degree have the intermediate outcomes of CAP been achieved?

While access to and use of the internet has continued to increase, attribution to CAP activities cannot be fully established.

The 2003 survey of CAP users suggested that CAP has had a positive impact on internet access and use. It reported that twenty-five percent (25%) of respondents first accessed the internet at a CAP site while forty-six percent (46%) of respondents planned to use the CAP site more often in the future. The survey found that sixty-nine percent (69%) of respondents felt the CAP site was very important. More recent data is not available as no other surveys of CAP users have been conducted.

The number of hours spent online each week by Canadians has continued to increase.

Table 7 below shows the change in online hours between 2004 and 2007 for select demographic groups. Popular internet activities have included online video, instant messaging, social networking sites, playing online games, streaming video and downloading music, among others.33 It is clear that as access to increased internet speeds has increased, internet users are increasingly using the internet for high data transfer activities such as viewing online video and playing online games.

Table 7: Change in Hours Online, Select Demographic Groups, Canada, 2004–2007
Demographic 2004 Hours/Week 2007 Hours/Week
Source: Canada Online 2007, Canadian Internet Project, 2008. Canadian Internet Project 2004 (n=2,168); Canadian Internet Project 2007 (n=2,098). 
 
* Differences in use between Anglophones and Francophones may, in part, be attributable to a lower amount of French language content on the internet. (Return to Table Reference 7)
Language Group*
Anglophone 13.2 17.9
Francophone 10.7 13.7
Age
18–24 16.8 23.6
25–34 13.8 19.8
35–44 13.8 17.1
45–55 12.8 16.7
55–64 9.2 14.2
65+ 9.0 9.4
Education
High School Graduate or less 11.7 13.7
Attended College/University 13.1 16.7
University Degree + 14.0 19.7
Income
<$40,000 13.4 15.4
$40,000–$59,999 12.6 16.1
$60,000–$79,999 12.0 15.9
$80,000+ 14.5 19.9

What is clear from the table above is that the number of hours spent online is lower in 2007 for francophones (13.7) than Anglophones (17.9) and for high school graduate or less (13.7) compared to university degree holders (19.7). It is interesting to note that the differences between income levels is less significant (less than one hour per week) until the highest income group of $80,000+ is accounted for.

Most key informant interviewees believe that CAP has contributed to demand for IT/Internet among Canadians.

Most key informant interviewees, including external stakeholders and Industry Canada staff, believe that CAP has contributed to demand for ICT/Internet among Canadians by providing many Canadians with early exposure and training and thereby feeding demand. A few interviewees, representing external stakeholders and Industry Canada staff, noted that CAP has made more people aware of what the internet could do and thus fed interest and demand. A few additional interviewees, representing external stakeholders and Industry Canada staff, noted that CAP has resulted in an increased demand for broadband access in some communities. The Connecting Canadians: Canada's Community Access Program report contains some anecdotal evidence to suggest that CAP sites have helped increase the demand for internet service. This evidence suggests that CAP had early success with contributing to the demand for IT/Internet among Canadians.

Picton [Ontario] was also the first clear evidence that government investment would stimulate consumer demand for Internet service, and that the private sector would respond and build out the needed infrastructure. Picton had recently tried and failed to persuade telephone companies to lay in a line. That situation changed once Industry Canada announced its plans for a Picton CAP site. Even before the CAP site opened, an Internet service provider appeared. 300 Picton residents had apparently signed up for training, enough to convince the ISP [Internet Service Provider] that Picton was a market it wanted.34

Training accessed at CAP sites has emphasized internet skills development and use of a variety of online services.

Self-reported data from CAP site administrators in 2005, 2008 and 2009 have reported use of the internet at CAP sites to include internet/web searching, basic computer use, email, finding government services online, job searching, résumé preparation and academic/educational use. CAP site use has generally mirrored internet use by the general population, with general web searching and email access being the most popular types of uses. Table 8 provides results from 2008, showing the variety of training provided, as reported by CAP sites.

Table 8: Training Offered at CAP Sites by Percentage of Sites Reporting, 2008
Training Provided Percentage of Sites Reporting
Source: Summary of Findings of CAP Networks and Sites for FY 07/08, Ekos Research, n=3,137.
Using Internet/web searching 97%
Basic Computer Use 97%
Using Email 96%
Finding Government Service On-line 84%
Job Searching 81%
Résumé Preparation 80%
Academic/Education Use 78%
Use of Multi-media 66%
Applying for Social Benefits 51%
E-banking 44%
Web Design 34%
Income Tax Filing 33%
Creating a Business 18%
Managing a Business 16%
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4.2.3 To what degree have the ultimate outcomes of CAP been achieved?

Compared to other countries, Canada has fallen from 2nd place to 10th place in terms of broadband penetration since 2003.

This ranking is in part a reflection of the sharp increases seen in countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and others. Moreover, Canada is currently ranked 25th among OECD countries in terms of advertised broadband speeds offered by service providers, with ranges from 256 kilobytes per second to 25,000 kilobytes per second. In contrast, first ranked South Korea has broadband speeds between 8,000 kilobytes per second to 100,000 kilobytes per second. A comparison of dial-up use shows that it accounts for only 0.2% of internet connections in South Korea, while in Canada it stands at seven percent (7%). By mid-2008, Canada ranked 8th in the world in terms of total broadband subscribers, at 9.2 million. Broadband is now the dominant method of internet access in OECD countries35. While the core objective of CAP has never been to explicitly expand broadband infrastructure, CAP's ultimate outcomes include strengthen ICT infrastructure, access and use.

The Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Nunavut continue to experience lower than average internet access and use rates.

Despite increases in access to and use of the internet and efforts from programs such as CAP, some provinces and territories continue to experience lower than average internet access and use rates. Statistics Canada's 2007 Canadian Internet Use Survey found that less than seventy percent (70%) of survey respondents reported using the internet in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec, while percentages were over seventy percent (70%) in other provinces like British Columbia (78%) and Ontario (75%). Findings from the Canadian Internet Project September 2008 report found similar levels of internet usage. The report goes on to note the following:

Lower levels of internet use in Atlantic Canada can be explained, in part, by a lag in technical infrastructure and deployment. Given its large rural territory, and as such, the difficulty in providing internet access, Quebec faces similar infrastructure issues.36

Despite statistics on access and use in the Atlantic Provinces, key informants familiar with the MOAs established with select provinces generally agreed that CAP was more successful in provinces where MOAs had been signed. This has been more so a reflection of the level of interest and engagement on the part of MOA partners prior to the establishment of MOAs, rather than a direct result of the MOAs. A few interviewees explained that CAP has been more successful in provinces where the provincial government has been engaged, specifically through the signing of MOAs. As one interviewee explained, MOAs have proven to be successful for two reasons: 1) greater commitment to the program on the part of the provincial government; and 2) more funding (i.e. provinces often match the funds the federal government is providing). At the local or community level, a few interviewees noted that the success of specific CAP sites is linked to the level of engagement of the community and volunteers. Interviewees were divided on whether CAP has been successful in rural areas with about equal numbers stating that CAP has been successful in rural areas and that CAP has not been successful in rural areas.

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4.3 Cost-Effectiveness

4.3.1 Is the program cost-efficient or cost-effective?

Dimensions of cost-effectiveness often found in evaluations include funds leveraged from other sources, ratio of operating expenses to grants and contributions and opinions of program representatives and stakeholders. Cost comparisons to other similar programs are often not possible as comparable options typically do not exist. Cost-benefit analysis is sometime included as a part of cost-effectiveness analysis as well. Generally, indications of cost-effective delivery of public programs include a high level of leveraged funds compared to program funds, falling or low ratios of operating expenses to grants and contributions and positive opinion from both program representatives and stakeholders regarding the cost-effectiveness of the program.

CAP appears to have been successful at leveraging funds from other sources.

Table 9 below shows the funds leveraged from provinces and territories with which the program has established Memorandums of Agreement to jointly fund CAP sites. Cash funds leveraged from these provinces and territories remained relatively constant between 2005 and 2008, at an average of $2.63 million. The province of New Brunswick significantly increased its contribution in 2008–2009 from $1 million to $3 million. Although the amounts leveraged by jurisdiction vary, the program has leveraged a total of $14,208,041 from MOA partners since 2005–2006, representing 110% of the Industry Canada contribution of $12,960,231.

Table 9: Funds Leveraged from MOA Provinces and Territories By Year, 2005–2009
Province / Territory Funding Leveraged By Year
2005–2006 2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
Source: CAP Administrative Data. 
* Saskatchewan contributions are in-kind. (Return to Table Reference 9)
NL $645,914 $650,000 $550,000 $550,000
PEI $161,700 $161,700 $161,700 $240,468
NB $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $3,000,000
NS $340,000 $440,000 $440,000 $1,750,000
MB $492,000 $300,000 $200,000 $470,000
SK* $- $- $- $-
YK $130,076 $86,983 $130,000 $307,500
Total $2,769,690 $2,638,683 $2,481,700 $6,317,968

According to analysis conducted by Ekos Research in 2008, CAP sites leveraged an average total cash funding of $14,880 from all sources, as well as $11,963 of in-kind funding in 2008. It was reported that IC CAP operational funding in 2008 represented 9% of overall cash funding provided to CAP sites. However, provinces with MOAs use some of their G&C funding towards the administration of CAP sites which could lead to the percentage represented by IC CAP operational funding to be higher than stated. The Ekos analysis also reported that forty-seven percent (47%) of a CAP site's cash funding was from a combination of municipal government and the site's host organization.

The ratio of Operating Expenses to Gs&Cs steadily declined between 2005–2006 and 2008–2009.

Table 10 shows the ratio of CAP operating expenses to Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs) from 2005 to 2009. While Gs&Cs has fallen by eighteen percent (18%) since 2005, operating expenses have fallen by sixty-eight percent (68%). In 2005–2006, Gs&Cs totalled $17,482,323 while operating expenses totalled $5,061,000, yielding a ratio of .289. The following fiscal year saw a drop in the ratio to .206 as Gs&Cs fell to $12,247,246 while operating expenses dropped to $2,518,330. In 2007–2008, the ratio stayed constant with Gs&Cs rising to $14,588,861 while operating expenses also rose slightly to $3,000,000. Finally, 2008–2009 saw the ratio fall again as Gs&Cs stayed relatively stable at $14,417,714 but operating expenses fell to a low of $1,658,068.

Table 10: Ratio of CAP Operating Expenses to Gs&Cs, 2005–2009
Year Number of CAP Sites Operating Expenses Gs&Cs Ratio
Sources: CAP Administrative Data and Industry Canada's Grants and Contributions Reporting System.
2005–2006 3,951 $5,061,200 $17,482,323 .289
2006–2007 3,939 $2,518,330 $12,247,246 .206
2007–2008 3,843 $3,000,000 $14,588,861 .206
2008–2009 3,785 $1,658,068 $14,417,714 .115

According to a 2005 cost-benefit analysis, the program's benefits slightly outweighed its costs with an estimated ratio of 1.06.

The 2005 study conducted a comparison of five IHAB programs active at the time, including the Community Access Program. The study used data collected between 1994–1995 and 2004–2005, just prior to the reduction in the number of CAP sites. The analysis framework adopted was based on cost-benefit analysis guidelines and principles as defined and outlined by the Treasury Board of Canada in their Benefit-Cost Analysis Guide. When compared to these programs, CAP showed the smallest benefit-to-cost ratio as shown in Table 11.

Table 11: Present Value of Benefits and Costs and Benefit Cost Ratios by IHAB Programs, 1994–2005
Program Present Value 2005
Source: Bearing Point Cost Benefit Analysis of Information Highway Applications Branch Programs: Final Report, November 7, 2005.
Community Access Program (CAP)
Benefits $474,260,206
Costs $447,139,823
Net Benefits $27,120,383
Benefit-Cost Ratio 1.06
First Nations SchoolNet (FNS)
Benefits $57,152,570
Costs $38,945,491
Net Benefits $18,207,079
Benefit-Cost Ratio 1.47
Smart Communities (SC)
Benefits $101,424,671
Costs $65,191,247
Net Benefits $36,233,424
Benefit-Cost Ratio 1.56
Broadband Program (BRAND)
Benefits $87,102,534
Costs $33,871,371
Net Benefits $53,231,163
Benefit-Cost Ratio 2.57
Computers For Schools (CFS)
Benefits $724,220,128
Costs $67,628,694
Net Benefits $656,591,434
Benefit-Cost Ratio 10.71
Total for five programs
Benefits $1,444,160,109
Costs $652,776,626
Net Benefits $791,383,483
Benefit-Cost Ratio 2.21

30 2009 CAP Survey, July 2009. (Return to Reference 30).

31 Community Access Program 2003 Online User Survey, Industry Canada. (Return to Reference 31).

32 Highlights of June 2005 CAP Survey, Bearing Point. (Return to Reference 32).

33 CRTC Monitoring Report 2009, page 174. (Return to Reference 33).

34 Connecting Canadians: Canada's Community Access Program, circa 2000, page 19. (Return to Reference 34).

35 http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/63/53/41551452.xls September 21, 2009. (Return to Reference 35).

36 Canada Online 2007, page 41. (Return to Reference 36).

5.0 Summary of Key Findings

Continued Need

The key findings pertaining to continued need of the program found that access to the internet in Canada has increased considerably since CAP was created. Ninety-four percent (94%) of Canadians now live in a community where broadband access is available for purchase. Virtually all urban households and seventy-eight percent (78%) of rural households had access to broadband service by the end of 2008. The evaluation also found that internet use has increased from almost all locations between 1999 and 2007, as an estimated eighty-five percent (85%) of Canadians now use the internet on a regular basis. The number of Canadian households using the internet has increased from sixteen percent (16%) in 1997 to approximately seventy-four percent (74%) in 2008.

Despite increases in access to and use of the internet, however, the digital divide continues to persist in Canada among a number of demographic groups including Canadians in rural and remote communities, low income earners, those with low levels of literacy and education, francophones over 50 years of age, seniors and others. Moreover, the Canadian Internet Project has reported that by the end of 2007, twelve percent (12%) of Canadians have never used the internet. This suggests that there may always be a portion of the population who may never use the internet.

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Relevance

A review of program relevance in relation to Government of Canada and Industry Canada priorities has found that the program is less aligned with the current priorities of the Federal Government and the department than it once was. CAP has always held affordable public access to the internet as one of its core objectives. While the Federal Government views broadband internet access as essential infrastructure, it is now emphasizing private sector development and access by households, rather than public access. In addition, budget reductions and shorter renewals also suggest that CAP is less of priority than it once was. Program funding has fallen steadily from a high of $64 million in 1999–2000 to its current level of $15 million, while the program has only been granted one-year renewals since 2006–2007.

The evaluation has also found that CAP is less aligned with Industry Canada priorities. An historical review of the Department's Reports on Plans and Priorities found that it has steadily reduced its focus on individual skills development, long a part of CAP programming. While aspects of Industry Canada's legislation and mandate partially support the objectives of increased access to and use of the internet, the most recent Extending Broadband initiative shifts focus away from public access sites. Moreover, Industry Canada staff were split on whether CAP aligned with the priorities of the department. In the main, Industry Canada's current priorities tend to emphasize household access through the development of broadband infrastructure, rather than public access at the community level.

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Success

Regarding the success of the program at achieving its immediate outcomes, it was found that CAP has been successful at funding and maintaining public internet access sites. CAP sites have been located mostly in libraries, community centres and schools, with sixty-eight percent (68%) of CAP sites located in rural, northern and remote communities, including three percent (3%) on First Nations reserves. On the other hand, the most recent analysis of CAP site data (July, 2009), estimated that approximately sixty-eight percent (68%) of CAP sites are located within a twenty-five kilometer radius to other public internet access sites, while only thirty-two percent (32%) of CAP sites are not. Forty-two percent (42%) of CAP sites in rural areas do not have alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius while the figure is much lower in urban areas, with only eight percent (8%) of CAP sites without alternate public internet access within a twenty-five kilometer radius. The same survey also found that approximately forty-seven percent (47%) of CAP sites have broadband connectivity (at least 1.5 Mbps) while fifty-one percent (51%) reported having high speed. The remainder, approximately three percent (3%) of CAP sites, reported offering only dial-up service.

CAP has also demonstrated some success at providing access and training to demographic groups thought to be a part of the digital divide. Based on user survey and self-reported data, digital divide groups who have tended to use CAP sites include those with low income, lower levels of education, and those without home access to the internet and the unemployed. Key informants however, offered differing views. While a majority of key informants noted success of the program in this regard, a few suggested that much of the success was achieved in the early years of the program and that little new progress has been made in recent years to those most affected by the digital divide.

While access to and use of the internet has continued to increase, attribution to CAP activities could not be fully established. Regarding access, most key informant interviewees agreed that CAP has contributed to demand for IT/Internet among Canadians, but more substantive evidence to support this opinion was unavailable. Regarding internet use, self-reported program data from 2008 has indicated that training accessed at CAP sites has emphasized internet skills development and use of a variety of online services, with using internet/web searching, basic computer use, using email and finding government services online being the most popular training offered. What is known more generally is that the number of hours spent online each week by Canadians has continued to increase from an average of 11.9 hours in 2004 to an average of 18.8 hours in 2007.

The ultimate outcomes intended by CAP activities have included strengthened Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, knowledge and use. Compared to other countries, Canada has fallen from 2nd place to 10th place in terms of broadband penetration since 2003. This ranking is in part a reflection of the sharp increases seen in countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and others. Moreover, Canada is currently ranked 25th among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of advertised broadband speeds offered by service providers. Finally, the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Nunavut continue to experience lower than average internet access and use rates, in part, due to lagging infrastructure development.

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Cost-Effectiveness

The program appears to have been run cost-effectively in a number of respects. Administrative and self-reported data suggests that CAP has been successful at leveraging funds from other sources. Although the amounts leveraged by jurisdiction vary, a review of CAP administrative data has found that the program has leveraged just over $14.2 million from MOA partners since 2005–2006, representing 110% of the Industry Canada contribution of just over $12.9 million. In addition, sites from all provinces and territories reported in 2008 that they leveraged an average total cash funding of $14,880 from all sources, as well as $11,963 of in-kind funding, while the average Industry Canada contribution was $4,994. It was also reported that forty-seven percent (47%) of a site's cash funding came from the combination of municipal government and host organization funding.

The evaluation also found that the ratio of Operating Expenses to Grants and Contributions (Gs&Cs) steadily declined between 2005–2006 and 2008–2009. While Gs&Cs have fallen by eighteen percent (18%) since 2005, operating expenses have fallen by sixty-eight percent (68%). In 2005–2006, the ratio stood at .289; by 2008–2009, the ratio had fallen to .115.

A 2005 cost-benefit study calculated that the program's benefits slightly outweighed its costs with an estimated ratio of 1.06. The study conducted a comparison of five Information Highway Applications Branch programs active at the time. They included the Broadband Program, Computers for Schools, First Nations School Net, Smart Communities and the Community Access Program. The study used data collected between 1994–1995 and 2004–2005, just prior to the reduction in the number of CAP sites in the 2003–2005 period. It was also found that CAP had the lowest benefit-cost ratio of the five programs included in the analysis.

Figure 1

Figure 1: CAP Funding By Year, 1995–2010
Year Funding
Source: CAP Administrative Data.  
Note: Excludes CAP-YI funding through HRSDC.
1995–1996 $3
1996–1997 $8
1997–1998 $21
1998–1999 $41
1999–2000 $64
2000–2001 $59
2001–2002 $35
2002–2003 $30
2003–2004 $45
2004–2005 $25
2005–2006 $25
2006–2007 $13
2007–2008 $19
2008–2009 $19
2009–2010 $15

Return to Figure 1

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